After a casino project proposal was rejected in Richmond, Virginia in March, Golden Nugget has stated that no legal action will be taken because of the decision. The proposal to build a new casino in Richmond was one of three proposals the state received and was rejected. The decision to cut these three proposals were announced by the Richmond Mayor, Levar Stone’s office as there is only one gaming permit available and more deserving candidates are kept in the running. Other rejected pitches included Wind Creek Hospitality and the state’s Pamunkey Indian Tribe.
One of Golden Nugget’s partners in the Richmond casino undertaking had a lot to say about the rejection of the proposal. Dennis Cotto, a lawyer from Virginia has practised law in the state for about 30 years. He has also become an expert in the law of procurement. He believes firmly that the rejection of the operator’s proposal was incorrect. Cotto went on to say that Richmond did not follow due process and ignored the procurement laws of the state. Additionally, the casino operator was not allowed to appeal or address the concerns the city found that led to the rejection.
For each proposal to be reviewed, the Richmond Department of Economic Development created an Evaluation Panel to carefully give each proposal the attention it deserved. Reports from the department said that the rejections were given for several reasons. These reasons included concerns around the financial revenue projections and how likely it would be that it could be met, lack of control on the site, lack of experience when it comes to organizational skills and deficiency of the bid. No specifics were given as to which reasons led to the rejection of each proposal.
When it comes to the laws around procurement and government biddings, it has been designed in a way that ensures the city gets the best deal when a decision is made. The process has been created to be free of arbitrary decision making and more importantly corruption. Additionally, the bidders also have the right to a fair unfolding of events and are set out in that way when it comes to the procurement laws and how it pertains to the specific government and choosing the bill that best fills its needs.
According to Cotto, the way that things were handled in Richmond is far from what he has experienced before. He added that there cannot be a procurement that is not subject to the procurement procedures and rules. He went on to say that he has experienced an unsuccessful bid, but even though he was not happy about what he heard, he was at least informed but none of this occurred with the Richmond bid. However, a letter was produced and sent to the relative stakeholders. According to the letter, the Golden Nugget bid was rejected due to issues around not securing land for the casino project. Cotto still argued that this was not one of the conditions that needed to be met when it came to the request for proposal period.
Furthermore, the general counsel and executive VP for Golden Nugget, Steven L. Scheinthal commented and said that Cotto does not represent or speak on behalf of Golden Nugget. He acknowledges that the company was unsuccessful is what was a bid that was run fairly throughout. He added that the operator never considered taking any legal action against the government of Richmond and the decision to reject the proposal as a whole.
Golden Nugget has extensive experience as a casino operator all over the U.S. in states such as Nevada, New Jersey, Mississippi and Louisiana. The first presentation for the Richmond casino was brought forward in February. The blueprint outlined a 400 million USD project that would include the construction of a resort containing 177 hotel rooms, a 93,000 square foot casino floor, a theatre that would have 1,500 seats, a convention centre and space for six restaurants. It also depended on being selected and making it through the November election when voters decide which project is approved.
Three of the six candidates have not made the cut and three now remain. The three selected proposals came from The Cordish Companies and its casino brand Live!, Bally’s Corporation and Urban One. Urban One seems to be the favourite even though the company is a media conglomerate that is Black-focused and has no experience with running and operating casinos. Urban One has gained support from several organizations supporting its plan to build the casino along Interstate 95 close to the Philip Morris tobacco plant. Cordish and Bally’s have faced opposition from local communities based on the sites selected for their developments. The outcry aimed at Bally’s plan was so intense that the Evaluation Panel saw fit to dismiss the operator’s bid, which means that voters will have to choose between Cordish and Urban One.